Announcement: Open for normal business hours
February 23, 2023
Update Thursday 2/23/23: Castle Remedies is open for normal business hours.
Yesterday, a strong ice storm hit our area and we had to close up shop early. Conditions have improved and we expect to be open for normal business hours from here on out.
November 09, 2022
Herbal baths are a great way to relax at the end of the day. Adding herbs to your bath routine provides several health benefits ranging from relaxing aromatherapy to improved circulation, detoxification and skin health. Read on for recipes and recommendations about our favorite herbal baths.
For a simple herbal bath, we first prepare a concentrated herbal "tea" to add to our regular bathwater. We recommend against adding dried herbs directly to the bathwater, for two reasons: (1) the water temperature is not high enough to draw out the full medicinal benefits of the herbs, and (2) the herbal material can easily clog your drain if you're not careful to skim it out before draining the tub.
For making the herbal tea, a good rule of thumb is to use 1 ounce of dried herb for each quart of water. If you don't have a scale handy, use 1 TBSP of dried herb per 8 ounces of water. We recommend preparing at least two cups of herb-infused water to add to your bathwater. For a stronger bath, use four or more cups.
For delicate, aromatic herbs like chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, yarrow or rose: pour freshly boiled water over the herbs, cover (to prevent those precious essential oils from evaporating), and steep for around 10 minutes. Strain the herbal material out. Draw your bath and add the infused herbal tea water to your bathwater.
For hardier, woody, or resinous herbs like calendula, ginger, roots or tree barks: get an appropriately sized sauce pan or stock pot, fill with your measured water, and bring to a boil on the stove. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to low for a gentle simmer. Add your herbs, cover, and stir occasionally for 20 minutes. Take off heat, carefully strain, and add your The technical name for this process is making an herbal "decoction." This method helps break down hard herbal materials like barks, roots and seeds, and draws out the medicinal properties in resinous herbs. Add the strained liquid to your bathwater.
There are several optional additions you that can complement your herbs and elevate your bath. Most popular are probably bath salts like epsom salt, dead sea salt, or himalayan pink salt. Salts, especially epsom salt, can help relax sore muscles. Oats are another classic addition which adds an extra skin-soothing dimension. We recommend whole rolled oats contained in a muslin bag. Powdered milk (cow's milk or coconut milk) is gaining popularity as a bathing ingredient - it's said that the lactic acid in cow's milk helps gently exfoliate dry skin. Another nice addition is clay - bentonite or French green clay are said to provide a mineral-rich bathing experience and also promote detoxification. When adding clay, first mix the clay with warm water until fully dissolved, then add to the bath. Anywhere between 1/4 cup to 1 cup of clay is recommended per bath.
Chamomile relaxes the mind, body and spirit, and soothes the skin. It can be particularly helpful for itchy, red, or rashy skin. It has a pleasant apple-like aroma that has a wide appeal. It is very gentle and safe, making it a great choice for children of all ages, including infants.
Calendula is a staple skin healing herb. It helps speed wound healing, especially cuts and scrapes. Calendula improves the circulation of lymph, calms dry skin, and also has anti-microbial action. A Calendula bath would be appropriate to help ease skin irritations like rashes, bug bites, topical yeast infections, cat scratches, and extremely dry, cracked skin.
Lavender is another calming herb that is perfect for a unwinding after a long day. Lavender helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and tension. Studies have shown that diffusing lavender essential oil in the bedroom can help people fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. It has a stronger, medicinal and floral scent compared to Chamomile. A mixture of the two is quite nice. Lavender also has a general cleansing and antimicrobial activity.
Ginger is a warming herb that is helpful for alleviating muscle pain and soreness. It has a pleasant spicy, earthy scent that has a grounding and centering effect. A ginger bath would be recommended for anyone with stiff, painful, achey muscles or joints.
October 06, 2022
A recently published scientific trial concluded that using nasal saline irrigation twice daily greatly reduced severity, risk of hospitalization and death in high risk Covid-19 patients. Study participants started the nasal saline irrigation within 24 hours of testing positive for Covid-19 on a PCR test. The study found that participants who used the nasal irrigation were over 8 times less likely to be hospitalized than the national rate.
What exactly is "nasal saline irrigation"?
In basic terms, it's the process of rinsing the inside of your nose and sinuses with specially prepared salt water. We recommend using a neti pot and neti salt. View our collection here. We've known for a long time that using a neti pot during a respiratory infection or seasonal allergies can help relieve symptoms by physically flushing bacteria, viruses, and pollen out of the body. Click here to read step-by-step instructions on how to perform nasal saline irrigation.
Limitations of the study
Keep in mind, while this research article was published in August 2022, the actual study took place between September 24th and December 21, 2020, which was (1) during the original Covid-19 strain, and (2) before any of the vaccines became available. It would be interesting to expand and repeat the study to see how well nasal saline irrigation performs against the newer strains, as well as comparing vaccinated versus unvaccinated participants.
Nasal saline irrigation is an easy, affordable and accessible health intervention and is safe for almost all ages, including children as young as 2 years old. The use of a saline irrigation twice daily for 14 days during a Covid-19 infection is likely to reduce viral load and improve health outcomes. It may be more effective for unvaccinated individuals; further testing would be needed to determine exactly how effective nasal saline irrigation is for vaccinated individuals. However, we don't think it could hurt for anyone to use a neti pot while sick.
Click the "read" button to view the full text of the study.
August 04, 2022
In southeast Michigan, we've actually had a pretty good summer so far - not too many mosquitoes, in my experience. They're still present, though, and at least a few bites seem to be inevitable every year. I'd like to share one of our most popular and useful remedies with you: Ledum.
Homeopathic Ledum is made from a plant known as Marsh Labrador Tea or Wild Rosemary. The full latin name is Ledum palustre. In traditional herbalism, the crushed leaves of Ledum palustre are applied topically for bug bites and stings. In homeopathic literature, Ledum is recommended for minor puncture wounds as well as bug bites and stings. A specific indication is that the area feels better with a cold application. Think about those swollen, hot, itchy bug bites that feel relieved by pressing a can of cold soda or bag of frozen peas against it.
You can take Ledum homeopathic pellets orally or topically. For oral use, 30c potency and 3-5 pellets under the tongue as needed when symptoms arise. For topical use, we recommend StingStop gel by Boericke & Tafel.
Using both oral and topical simultaneously offers a nice two-pronged approach. If I had to choose just one, I'd go for the StingStop gel. The gel feels comforting and cooling and it's really impressive how quickly it works.
Personally, I'm one of those people who are very sensitive to mosquito bites. For me, an untreated bite can take several weeks to completely resolve and disappear. Probably because I can't stop itching it! In my experience, StingStop stops the itching within 60 seconds of application and lasts for between 6 - 8 hours and the bite usually disappears within a couple of days.
You can use StingStop and Ledum pellets for any type of bug bite, including mosquitoes, bee stings, spider bites, chiggers, ticks (still go see your doctor if you find an attached tick!), and more.
That reminds me, I recently got some chigger bites at my waistband while I was mowing at my community garden. Chigger bites are notoriously itchy and irritating. I used StingStop and it was so effective, I forgot about them! The rashy bites resolved in about a week.
Ledum is one of those remedies that's great to have on hand. Many of our clients stock it in their first aid chest. It's also a great "ambassador" remedy. Everyone gets bug bites. Ledum works so quickly and effectively, it yells: "Homeopathy works!"
June 23, 2022
Figure 1: green poison ivy leaves
Figure 2: Reddish-brown poison ivy leaves
Figure 3: Red poison ivy leaves vining up a tree
Homeopathic Treatment: Rhus Tox pellets are used orally for poison ivy rash. 30C potency taken 1 to 6 times daily is a typical dosage. Take as needed – if the symptoms flare, take a dose. 200C or 1M potency can be used for more severe cases. A dose is 3-5 pellets dissolved under the tongue. Take on a clean palate, at least 15 minutes away from food or drink (other than water). Alternatively, you can use Hyland’s Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Relief tablets. This product contains Rhus Tox along with two other homeopathic remedies that target common symptoms of poison ivy rash.
Topical Creams and Sprays: Castle Remedies carries several natural options for topical relief. Quantum’s Itch Nix Gel contains a combination of herbal extracts, essential oils, and B vitamins in a soothing aloe vera base. Tecnu Rash Relief Spray combines the antihistamine diphenhydramine with herbal extracts of plantain, grindelia, tea tree oil and white thyme oil. Herb Pharm’s Soothing Oak and Ivy Spray contains menthol with herbal extracts of sassafras and grindelia. Some people find relief with topically applied Lavender essential oil – just make sure it’s diluted properly. You can add 15 - 20 drops of Lavender oil to ¼ cup aloe vera gel for a nice DIY topical.
Oil Removal: It’s important to wash away poison ivy oils thoroughly and quickly. Castle Remedies carries two Tecnu products for this purpose. Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser is a gentle, milky non-foaming cleanser that can be used on skin, tools, pets, clothes, and shoes. Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy & Oak Scrub is a bit heavier duty and can be used to exfoliate and scrub oils off the skin. We highly recommend having these products on hand. If you must go purchase them after exposure, it’s probably too late to prevent a rash.
Know When To Get Help: Seek immediate medical attention if (1) the rash covers a large area of the body, (2) if the rash is affecting eyes, ears, nose, throat, mucus membranes, or genitals, (3) if poison ivy smoke has been inhaled, (4) if the rash is not improving.
June 02, 2022
To prepare the body for surgery and calm the nerves, perform the following meditation:
Find a quiet place where you can rest in a comfortable position. Take time to relax as much as possible. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on your breath, following the inhalation and exhalation. Allow your mind to enter a state of relaxation/prayer. Imagine the surgery happening, bringing your attention to the area of the body that will be operated on. This does not have to be anatomically correct. Imagine that area opening and gratefully receiving the loving, healing hands of the surgeon. The surgeon who has performed this operation many, many times and holds intentions of helping and healing. Imagine each step of the surgery being performed with grace and loving care as you are being healed.
To promote ideal healing, perform the following meditation:
Find a quiet place where you can rest in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Take time to relax as much as possible. Focus your attention on your breath, following the inhalation and exhalation. Allow your mind to enter a state of relaxation/prayer. Bring your attention to the area of the body that needs healing. Imagine that body part closing and healing together perfectly.
Add to above the following steps for surgeries with risk of blood loss (abdominal, etc.)
Right before surgery:
Bring your attention to the area to be operated on. Imagine your blood vessels clamping down and closing to reduce the flow of blood during the procedure.
Bring your attention to the area to be operated on. Imagine your blood vessels relaxing, opening, enlarging, and allowing normal flow. Imagine white blood cells flowing into the area like a sponge, mopping up inflammation, repairing and restoring the area.
May 11, 2022
In the last 20 years, tick populations have increased dramatically in Michigan. Our relatively temperate weather allows ticks to reproduce and spread with ease. The last few years have been particularly bad, with ticks encroaching into more urban areas. Nowadays, ticks can be found at your local park and even in well-kept backyards. In this blog, we'll talk about ways to avoid or repel ticks and what to do if you get bitten.
First, let's meet our most common ticks in Michigan: the dog tick, the deer tick, and the Lone Star tick.
Overwhelmingly, the most common tick in Michigan is the dog tick. It has a wide distribution and feeds on small animals like mice and birds. They enjoy hitching a ride on dogs and humans, too. Deer ticks are prevalent but less common, and are most often found along the western coast of Michigan. However, in the last five years, deer ticks have begun spreading eastward. The Lone Star tick is a relative newcomer but has quickly spread out to all areas of Michigan.
All ticks are capable of carrying and transmitting several nasty diseases. The dog tick can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever; deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease; and Lone Star ticks can cause a condition known as "alpha-gal," which causes the person to become allergic to red meat.
Where Are They Found?
Ticks are found wherever their hosts frequent. Wooded areas, brushlands, and areas with tall grass are often populated by ticks. Anywhere that small mammals like mice and rabbits can live, you're sure to find ticks. Deer ticks are more commonly found in the woods. However, it's becoming common to find ticks in more residential areas and well-mowed urban backyards as well.
How To Repel and Prevent
What To Do If You've Been Bitten
First step: don't panic! The odds of catching a tick-borne disease in the first 24 hours of a bite are very low. The most important thing is removing the tick in a calm and safe manner. There are a lot of folk methods for removing ticks, but most of them are unsafe because they can cause the tick to regurgitate potentially tainted blood back into your body. Do not attempt to smother or use heat to remove the tick. Use a product like a Tick Key or tick spoon, or needle-nose tweezers. If using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the base as possible and slowly but steadily pull upwards without twisting or squeezing. If any parts of the tick remain, try to remove them carefully using tweezers. If you can't get it all out, disinfect the area and wait for the skin to heal.
Contact your family doctor for advice. Some practitioners will recommend a course of antibiotics to help prevent Lyme and other infections.
A natural approach: In addition to your doctor's recommendations, consider taking a dose of homeopathic Ledum 200c, which helps with insect bites. You can also apply disinfectant essential oils to area like tea tree or lavender. Echinacea tincture or capsules taken internally can also help to stimulate a strong immune response (but skip the Echinacea if you have a pre-existing immune condition).
Watch for any new rashes, irritations, or any unusual symptoms within the next month. Early signs of infection often include fever-like symptoms. Contact your doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Saving and Testing Ticks
Consider saving the tick and getting it tested through the mail by a company like TickCheck. You can preserve a tick by taping it to a piece of paper, putting it in an airtight container, or storing it in alcohol. Getting your tick tested can help give peace of mind, or help to inform you and your doctor about the next best steps of treatment.
CDC Recommendations & Resources
The CDC website has an extremely comprehensive database of information about ticks. Click here to view it in a new window.
April 02, 2022
After two years of being closed to foot traffic, Castle Remedies has reopened for in-store shopping. We are very much looking forward to seeing you in-person. It has been a long and challenging two years for everyone. Before you come, please review our safety measures and some recent changes.
-All customers will be required to wear an N95 or N95 equivalent mask (KN95, KF94, etc.) while inside the store. KN95 and KF94 masks are available for free for customers. Limit 1 per person.
-Acceptable masks include: N95, KN95, KF94, or double masking with a surgical mask underneath a full face cloth mask.
-A maximum limit of 4 customers will be allowed in the store at one time.
-Employees will be required to wear an N95 or equivalent mask.
-We ask that you stay home or opt for shipping if you are feeling unwell.
-We have 5 HEPA air filters running at all times.
-Commonly touched surfaces are disinfected daily.
-Hand sanitizer is available to all.
Pick Up Area Moving
We have moved the contactless pick up area. The new location is inside the building, right outside the Castle Remedies shop on the lower level. This will effectively discontinue our curbside pick up service. Ultimately this is a trade-off we will have to make because while the store is open, we cannot guarantee that an employee would be able to leave to run an order up at any given time.
Glad to Have You Back
Again, we are simply thrilled to reopen our doors and welcome everyone back. Thank you for supporting us, especially in the last two years. Our community has lost many wonderful small, local businesses to COVID-19. It is because of your continued support that we are still here serving you. Thank you!
February 01, 2022
It's that time of the year again! We've been spending all our time indoors, where our furnaces are keeping us cozy and warm... and dry. Too dry! Indoor heating is a nice modern convenience, but it also tends to quickly dehumidify the air. Ideally, our indoor winter humidity should be around 45%, but it can be very challenging to reach that goal. Many people suffer from dry skin that cracks and peels in the winter. Continue reading to discover a few tips and tricks for keeping your skin soft and moisturized from the inside out.
Tip #1: Hydrate with water
When we think of hydration and moisture, we immediately think of water. First, evaluate your daily water intake and make sure you're not falling short. Everyone's body is different and you don't need to force yourself to drink 3 gallons of water every day. Aim for between 0.5 Oz - 1 Oz per pound of body weight, per day. Remember that many foods deliver an amount of water, like soups and stews, fruits and veggies, etc.
You can measure your home's indoor humidity with a digital standalone humidity gauge which can be found for less than $10 online or in a home goods store. Many thermostats also measure humidity, especially if you have a smart thermostat. To increase your home's humidity, you can install a whole-home humidifying system on some furnaces. You can also purchase small humidifiers and run them throughout the winter, although they require daily upkeep and only affect one room.
Tip #2: Protect from the inside with healthy fats
Fats also play an essential role in hydration. In this interesting rat study, fish oil supplementation was shown to help reduce dry skin and itching, promote the skin's protective barrier functions, and helped protect against water loss through the skin. The rats who were given fish oil were found to have a different ratio of fats (higher in omega-3's) in the composition of their skin. You can also refer to this study which found a decrease of dry skin with omega-3 supplementation. (Links to both studies can be found at the end of this blog post.)
Tip #3: Moisturize with all-natural herbs and oils
Take time each day to apply topical moisturizers. My personal favorite combination for winter is aloe vera gel plus an organic simple oil. On clean, dry skin I'll first apply a layer of organic 99% aloe vera gel. Once that has dried, I'll massage the oil over it. This winter I've been using avocado oil, but there are lots of options. Jojoba oil, olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, shea butter are also excellent choices. Lotions are nice and all, but they always seem to contain alcohols which can be drying and irritating to the skin. For heavy duty moisture, reach for single oils.
Tip #4: Try Chamomile and Calendula for painful, red, rashy, cracked skin
If dry skin has progressed to the point of pain, consider taking a skin-and-soul-soothing Chamomile bath and following up with Calendula-infused olive oil. Of course, contact your doctor or dermatologist if there's a chance your issues can be caused by a health condition or allergic reaction.
Chamomile bath instructions: Get a bulk bag of dried Chamomile flowers or a box of Chamomile tea bags, steep a strong tea (2 tsp herb per 8oz water), steep for ~20 to 40 minutes, covered, and then add to warm bath water. You can also add 1 cup of finely ground oatmeal to the bath (grind it in your blender) or purchase colloidal oatmeal. Immerse your skin and soak long and often.
Oral supplementation with fish oil reduces dryness and pruritus in the acetone-induced dry skin rat model, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0923181115300207
Is Oral Omega-3 Effective in Reducing Mucocutaneous Side Effects of Isotretinoin in Patients with Acne Vulgaris?, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5996413/
Oatmeal Bath Information, https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/colloidal-oatmeal-baths
January 27, 2022
It is common to measure a person by the company they keep. Likewise, it is common to measure any subject by its advocates. And in this light, the field of homeopathic medicine is standing on the shoulders of cultural giants, of scientific and medical geniuses, of political world leaders and royalty, of religious and spiritual teachers, of literary greats, of sports superstars, of world-class musicians and artists, and of corporate and philanthropic leaders.
It is not surprising to learn that 11 American Presidents (from Lincoln to Clinton) and heads of state from France, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Mexico, India, and Pakistan have advocated for homeopathy. Seven different Popes were either known to request homeopathic treatment for themselves and/or who gave the highest awards that they could offer to non-clergy to medical doctors who prescribed homeopathic medicines to people who suffered from infectious disease epidemics during the 19th century. Further, dozens of highly respected rabbis, Muslim clergy, and Eastern spiritual leaders have been known to advocate for homeopathy, several of whom were known to be active prescribers of homeopathic medicines themselves.
Many literary greats from all over the world have been known to be serious advocates of homeopathy in their own lives, many of whom were known to integrate stories of the use of homeopathic medicines in their writings. Advocates of homeopathy includes Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Emily Dickinson, and Louisa May Alcott, while just some of the European literary masters who appreciated homeopathy includes George Bernard Shaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Anton Chekhov.
Even major medical doctors and world-class scientists advocated for and/or experienced the profound benefits from homeopathic treatment, including Charles Darwin, Sir William Osler, Emil Grubbe, MD (the first doctor to use radiation in medical treatment), Harold Randall Griffith, MD (one of the fathers of anesthesia), Charles Frederick Menninger, MD (founder of the famed mental health institution called the Menninger Clinic), and C. Everett Koop, MD (former Surgeon General).
If the above names and reputations and their connections to homeopathic medicines were not known, here are some Nobel Prize winners who were known advocates of homeopathic medicines and their connections to this medical specialty.
To continue reading the list the Nobel Prize winners and their comments about homeopathy on Dana Ullman's website, click the "Read" button below.
January 19, 2022
I'm happy to share this recipe for a dessert we lovingly call "Choco-beans" around my house. This recipe combines fiber and antioxidant-rich ingredients to create an indulgent treat that hits the spot when you're craving something sweet! Have you ever made brownies and wanted to eat all the batter before you could even bake them? This tastes kind of like that, except it's healthier and safe to eat! Adzuki beans form the base of the recipe, offering a creamy texture and mild, sweet taste. They're also easier to digest than most other beans.
November 30, 2021